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How do the initial scenes with the witches set the atmosphere of Macbeth?

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How do the initial scenes with the witches set the atmosphere of 'Macbeth'? Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare in about 1600 but Shakespeare has set this play even earlier - about 1050. This play was written just after the gunpowder plot by Guy Fawkes which had the scheme revealed in 1605. This was a group of Catholics, who tried to blow up the houses of Parliament and not only this, they were going to kill the king at that time James the 1st. In Shakespeare's time most people alleged that witches could do all sorts of things. King James the 1st had his boat nearly drowned which he thought a storm was raised to drown him. He instantly knew that this dreadful work was held by witches so he decided to pass a law through the parliament about anyone being a witch should be executed. In this case when Macbeth was performed on stage at that time it would have grabbed everyone's interest with the use of the witches in the opening scene. Shakespeare opens the play with 'thunder and lightning' and in the superstitious times it was believed that fierce storms released forces of evil. Shakespeare has chosen to do this because to frighten and to unsettle the audience. The three witches meet in foul weather - they speak of thunder, lightning, "fog and filthy air". ...read more.


In line 30-34 there is a little spell that they are casting the words "Thus do go, about, about" shows that they are dancing while they are doing this spell. Odd numbers like 3 and 9 are used which the number 9 is the magic number and these two add numbers were supposed to be related to witchcraft. Shakespeare uses the idea of the witches to chant together and also they are expressed as riddles. The word "munched" is used three times and this is like a chant "And munched and munched and munched". The witches can apparently control the weather and they are going to do something evil to a captain on a boat. The reason for this act is that because a sailor's wife did not give a chestnut to the witch so they are going to wound her husband. "Arount thee, witch! the rump fed ronyon cries" this line expresses the sailor wife's reaction to the witch by saying to her to go away. The next line "the rump fed ronyon cries" is showing the witch being offensive by calling the woman spoilt and this shows that the witch has no respect towards this woman. Just for this judgment the witch is going to cause the women's husband harm and take profit against her "I'll do, I'll do and I'll do". ...read more.


When Ross and Angus arrive with the news that King Duncan has made Macbeth the thane of Cowdor "He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor" just a few minutes later the 1st prediction comes true. Just after hearing this Banquo realises the 1st prediction comes true "What, can the devil speak true". Therefore this means that the witches make Macbeth believe that his greatest prize is here. The predictions are in his mind and he is keen that the witches know the future so the spell is working on him. Macbeth talks to himself "Glamis, and thane of Cawdor! The greatest is behind" this shows that Macbeth is starting to believe the witches prophecies. Macbeth also jumps to conclusion by thinking already to kill Duncan "My thoughts, whose murder yet is but fantastical" this expresses that he has already thought of carrying the murder of the king. Shakespeare has started the play by the idea of witches. I think that the idea of this really got the audience anxious at that time. I like the idea of Shakespeare using at that time the recent events that took place and how uses them in this play i.e. - the witches, and how people did anything to slay kings. The witches make a huge impact and I can't judge that Macbeth gets brainwashed but he deserves what he gets towards the end because of all the blameless murders he carries out. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nabeel Nawaz English Coursework Macbeth ...read more.

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